Lincecum gets to the heart of the matter

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Lincecum gets to the heart of the matter

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. Theres nothing like a stiff breezeblowing out and a couple of wallbangers to make a pitcher nibble at thecorners.

Tim Lincecum gave up a few deep drives Saturday afternoon five extra-base hits in his first two innings, actually.

But Lincecum didnt start shying away from the zone. He keptgoing for the heart of the plate. Its something he plans to do all season ashe looks to cut down his 86 walks from last year, which was one behind ColoradosJhoulys Chacin for the most in the National League.

No walks, said Lincecum, after becoming the first Giantspitcher to complete six innings this spring. Its a huge thing for me. Itsabout getting ahead, and even when you dont, not being afraid to throw awrinkle down the middle. For me, thats a two-seamer. Hopefully you induce aground ball or something.

And get back into the dugout with fewer pitches. Thats whatLincecum did in the Giants 7-2 victory over the As at Scottsdale Stadium. Hewent over to pitching coach Dave Righetti after the fourth inning, looking forsome counsel because he knew hed been knocked around.

RECAP: Lincecum, Giants serve A's 7-2 St. Paddy's Day loss

He said I was at 48 pitches through four innings, Lincecumsaid. I was like, Oh, I guess its not as bad as I thought.

He struck out four, made pitches with runners on base whileholding the As to one run in six innings. The only run scored when he allowedconsecutive two-out doubles to Daric Barton and Derek Norris in the secondinning. The pitch to Norris was a 1-2 changeup that hovered at the belt.

I tried to slide-step a changeup, and Im not going to dothat anymore, Lincecum said. There are things a pitcher has to focus on.

Lincecum is not focusing on his slider. He didnt throw oneSaturday, and said hes trying to narrow his focus on his core pitches.

Fastball-curve-change is working right now, he said. (Theslider) is going to be my fourth pitch. Ill lean on the first three.

Lincecum said getting away from his fastball and changeup my two stronger pitches is one thing that leads to walks. Hes also awarethat his 3.99 pitches per plate appearance last season was the highest of hiscareer.

Lincecums evolving outlook on pitching to contact might bepart of his maturation. But it also might reflect confidence in a more athleticdefense that should be improved on both the infield and outfield.

Manager Bruce Bochy said he hopes all the pitchers feel thatway.

With the stuff they have, theyll log their strikeouts,Bochy said. But thats the last thing we want them trying to do. Just attackthe zone and use your defense.

The defense saved Lincecum at least one run. Right fielderNate Schierholtz made a strong throw even by his standards to throw out arunner at the plate.

The benefit of arms in the outfield speaks for itself,Lincecum said. Thats excitement, right there.

Former top prospect Andy Marte dies from car accident in Dominican Republic

Former top prospect Andy Marte dies from car accident in Dominican Republic

Former major leaguer Andy Marte died early Sunday from a traffic accident in his native Dominican Republic.

Metropolitan traffic authorities say Marte died when the Mercedes Benz he was driving hit a house along a road between San Francisco de Macoris and Pimentel, about 95 miles (150 kilometers) north of the capital.

Marte, a 33-year-old infielder, played for several Major League teams, including Atlanta, Cleveland and Arizona, and was most recently playing in the Korean league.

Marte was playing in the Dominican winter league with the Aguilas Cibaenas team.

"We have awoken this Sunday with this sad news that we have lost a special being," club president Winston Llenas said in a statement about Marte.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Santiago Casilla says he never received offer from Giants

Santiago Casilla says he never received offer from Giants

SAN FRANCISCO — Over the final month of his time with the Giants, it became clear that Santiago Casilla and the team would part ways. On Friday, Casilla confirmed that he never had the opportunity to return. 

On a conference call to announce a two-year deal with the Oakland A’s, Casilla said he “would have been happy to return to the Giants, but I never got an offer from them. I understood.”

Casilla said he had several opportunities to go elsewhere and close, mentioning the Milwaukee Brewers as one interested team. Casilla signed a two-year, $11 million deal with the A’s, who likely won’t need him to pitch in the ninth. The Brewers went on to bring in Neftali Feliz for one year and $5.35 million; he is expected to close. 

“I preferred to return to the Athletics because that’s where my career started,” Casilla said through interpreter Manolo Hernández Douen. “And I’m very excited.”

Casilla spent the first six years of his career with the A’s before crossing the bridge and becoming a key figure in three title runs. In seven seasons in San Francisco, he posted a 2.42 ERA and saved 123 games. Casilla had a 0.92 ERA in the postseason, but he was stripped of a prominent role in the weeks leading up to the 2016 playoffs. 

Casilla, 36, blew nine saves before being pulled from the ninth inning. He appeared just three times in the final 14 regular season games and just once in the playoffs. He did not take the mound in Game 4 of the NLDS, watching as five other relievers teamed up to give back a three-run lead. 

That moment stung Casilla, and it affected Bruce Bochy, too. The Giants struck quickly in December to bring Mark Melancon in as their new closer, but at the Winter Meetings, Bochy said he would welcome Casilla back in a setup role. 

“He’s a great team player (and) teammate,” Bochy said. “(I) certainly wouldn’t rule it out because he still has great stuff. And he had some hiccups there in that closing role, but I would take him anytime.”

As it turned out, that opportunity was never there for Casilla. The Giants didn’t make another move after the big deal with Melancon, and they’ll rely on younger arms to record most of the outs in the seventh and eighth. Casilla said he’s not bitter about the way it all ended. 

“I have left that in the past,” he said. “It’s a new year, it’s a new year. I have left this in the past.”